How Aquaponics Works
The term how aquaponics works simply means that it combines with water and oxygen to both produce and supply the necessary nutrients for a thriving, living ecosystem. There are two basic kinds of aquaponics systems, the first being the DIY method or self-watering, and the second is more suitable for professional farmers. In a self-watering system, farmers must collect fish waste, fertilizer, and other by-products of agricultural and aquaculture activities and convert it into a usable liquid form. The liquid is then pumped back into the fish tank, providing an endless flow of nutrients as required by the plants.
In the professional version of aquaponics, by contrast, farmers create a sterile environment in which the bacteria can grow. The sterileness is achieved through what is called “gas transfer.” What this means is that the waste is mixed with a dilute solution of ammonia, which is supplied through piping that is attached to the tanks. The dilution is necessary because a natural ph level in the soil cannot be sustained within the tank, and so an ammonia-water mixture is required.
The pH level in the fish tank must also be maintained at a consistently high value, or else nutrients will be wasted and bacteria cannot grow. This is why professional aquaponics farmers use specialized testing kits to ensure that the pH level is maintained. It is also true that plants grown in aquaponics do not require very much water, because they are in a tightly-woven mesh of biofilter beds.
The resulting ecosystem is highly efficient, because there is an abundant supply of both nutrient-rich and non-nutrient-rich water. It is also true that since plants get most of their water through Nitrogen, they tend to consume less overall water than plants receiving less water, since nitrogen is a plant-based nutrient. Aquaponics farms thus save water and grow healthier plants.
How aquaponics works also depends on the way in which the plants are being cultured. In this system, there is usually a closed loop of aquaculture tanks containing fish. The fish produce ammonia, which is converted into nitrite and nitrate by the nitrites’ reaction with oxygen. Once nitrite and nitrate have been formed, nitrite is again converted into ammonia, and the cycle continues.
This is why it is important for new farmers to set up the equipment for cycling as soon as possible. But even after setting up the farm’s equipment, farmers should still monitor water temperature and the condition of the fish in the tank. Ammonia is a toxic substance, especially if the water temperature falls below zero degrees Celsius, known as a winter pool. This is why a closed loop of aquaponics is needed to prevent the production of ammonia, as well as nitrites and nitrates.
Aquaponics, unlike traditional aquaculture, also involves cultivation of fish in aquariums. Traditional aquaculture is usually set up for a single species. On the other hand, aquaponics can be set up for groups of species, such as tilapia for fish and lettuce for plants. Both aquaculture and aquaponics yield better results with a good growing medium and consistent water temperature.
It has been estimated that aquaculture produces over thirty percent more food per calorie than normal. By using aquaponics and its accessories, farmers can feed more aquatic animals than they could with conventional farming. This is because it eliminates the need for them to store sufficient quantities of feed, as well as space for large animal cages, and so on.
Aquaponics also uses the best medium available, which is a media bed. Media beds contain live, hygienic, organic materials that are good for plant growth. One media bed can contain several different kinds of fish, several kinds of plants, as well as soil. The nutrients from the media bed can then be distributed to the plants through the water flow. Thus, while you learn how aquaponics works, you will also be able to understand how it is set up to ensure optimal growth of your aquatic animals and plants.